My Comedy Hero: Adam Riches on Pete and Dud, Only Fools and Horses, Cheers and Jack Lemmon
- Brian Donaldson
- 16 April 2019
Victor of the 2011 Edinburgh Comedy Award chooses classic sitcoms from both sides of the pond among his comic influences
I never set out to be a live comedian so I never really looked to the world of live comedy for heroes. I was into sitcoms but comedy films were my main thing. I saw a lot of them in a film and then discovered that in their careers they had been live comedians as well and that took me backwards in one of those comedy family tree things they used to do. So, I went back to Saturday Night Live and the Edinburgh Fringe as well. Pete and Dud I knew of, and Not the Nine O'Clock News and Blackadder but had no idea that they had all done the Fringe. As I became more into the world of live comedy in my 20s, that's when I started to piece the dots together and dig out all their stuff.
So, I have a mosaic of influences. In the house growing up when I lived in Glasgow, it was Billy Connolly. My mum was Scottish and my dad would have done anything to be Scottish. He was always adopting the accent and loved the life there, and was very upset when we moved down to Cambridge. I spoke with a broad Glaswegian accent until I was about five. There was a storytelling sound and that smile that Connolly had through his voice that charmed you automatically. As a kid I didn't understand him but I liked him and liked the effect he had on my parents. He was certainly one of the first comedy voices I heard.
Then it was Pete and Dud. As a teenager you hear those Derek and Clive tapes and you feel that you've discovered something that no one else has found. That freedom of these men speaking in a way that I had never heard people do before: all drunk, disgusting and foul. And then quite sad, disturbing and bullying.
In my late 20s, it definitely switched to American comedy. Cheers was such a big thing when I was growing up and it's still my favourite TV show. Seeing all that ensemble character work reminded me of Only Fools and Horses when it was at its height; just brilliant character comedians interacting with each other. Frasier never got me the way Cheers got me, probably because Sam Malone, the Ted Danson character, was everything you'd want to be. He was good looking, he was great with women, he was funny, and he was accepted because he was stupid. And he had a great care and love for everyone around him. They're re-running them now on Channel 4 and I've been watching them all the way through from start to finish and it's just golden.
Cheers and Saturday Night Live were the two big things from America which have influenced me: the shows were my heroes rather than the individuals. Over here it would be Only Fools and Horses: that's the one I've had the most love and affection for and something I wanted to emulate in some way.
Jack Lemmon is my favourite comedy actor of all time. When I first saw Some Like it Hot, I didn't know who I wanted to be in the film; normally it would be the Tony Curtis character, the good-looking guy who would get the girl. But Jack Lemmon had all the best lines and that piqued an interest in me. Maybe that straight, leading role isn't always the best part. You can be a bit quirkier and have more fun with a different character.
The Adam Riches Experience is on tour from Thu 25 Apr to Wed 3 Jul.